Though many recognize Park City as a winter sports mecca, locals know that summer days can be the best days when the Greatest Snow on Earth has left the mountains to fill our many refreshing reservoirs.
Deciding where to start can be daunting, so I’ve culled 10 fun things to do in Park City in the summer, offering something for everyone, regardless of age or ability.
Utah Olympic Park Flying Ace All-Stars Freestyle Show
Saturdays & Sundays through Sept. 1st at 1 p.m.
Witness the awe-inspiring athleticism of winter sports athletes – sans winter – at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP), one of the Olympic Legacy venues from the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games. Originally the location of the bobsled, luge, skeleton and ski jumping events, the venue continues to be the training ground for current and future Olympians and National Team skiers and snowboarders, some of whom spend their Saturdays and Sundays in the summer wowing the crowds with their gravity-defying freestyle tricks. During this no-cost, 30-minute choreographed show, athletes soar up to 60 feet in the air before landing the UOP’s Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool. While you’re there, be sure to tour the Alf Engen Ski Museum and George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games Museum. There are also nature trails available for hiking and biking, and the Discovery Zone features a climbing wall and playground to let the wee ones get their wiggles out.
Paddle Boarding in the Uintas
Standup paddle boarding (SUP) has become one of the most popular low-impact water sports over the past decade. Many local SUP enthusiasts will head to the nearby Jordanelle and Deer Creek reservoirs, but for a uniquely-Utah experience, I recommend you head up into the Uinta Mountains and bring your SUP to a pristine alpine lake.
Park City provides easy access to the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which contains the western portion of the Uinta Mountain Range, created by presidential proclamation in 1906 and containing more than 1,000 lakes. Encompassing 460,000 acres, it is the largest wilderness area in Utah. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Uinta” is derived from the Ute word “Yoov-we-teuh,” meaning pine tree or pine forest, while “Wasatch” is a Ute word meaning “low place in high mountains,” and “Cache is the French word for “to hide,” harkening to the fur trappers who were the area’s first European visitors and would hide their bounty until it could be traded.
The stunning Mirror Lake Highway takes visitors from nearby Kamas up through the forest, cresting at its namesake, a 53-acre lake located at more than 10,000 feet above sea level and encompassing 53 acres. Mirror Lake offers a cool respite from the summer heat at lower elevations, but is often inaccessible until late spring/early summer.
There is a fee for recreating along Mirror Lake Highway, so be sure to stop by one of the ranger stations or self-service areas on the way in. It’s just $6 for 1-3 days, and annual passes are $45. More information on area access and passes can be found by clicking here. Many local shops rent SUPs, but Park City SUP – located in lower Deer Valley – specializes in the sport and provides quick lessons to help get you on your way.
Mountain Biking in Round Valley
Park City’s network of mountain biking trails garnered the very first Gold Level Ride Center award from the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), and for good reason. Mountain bikers from novice to expert can find room to roll among the town’s 400 miles of contiguous, non-motorized recreation trail. One of the most popular and accessible areas is Round Valley, which encompasses 700 acres of preserved open space, and includes 30 miles of soft surface double-track and flowing single-track trail. Considered appropriate for bikers of all skill levels, you will also find hikers and trail runners enjoying the area. MTB Project provides a good overview of trails to try; check it out by clicking here.
Just visiting, or don’t have wheels of your own? There are many bike rental shops to choose from, with a comprehensive list of rental companies listed here. There are many access points for Round Valley, but the most popular tends to be by the Quinn’s Junction Recreation Complex, located off S.R. 248 just as you head out of Park City.
600 Gilmor Way
AQUA X ZONE at Jordanelle Reservoir
Mondays-Wednesdays – 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursdays-Sundays – 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Summertime temps in Park City can be downright hot, even at 7,000 feet. To cool down, many locals head to the reservoirs, but if you’re looking for some out-of-the-box watersport action, check out the AQUA x ZONE at Jordanelle Reservoir. Located 10 minutes from Park City, the AQUA x ZONE is an inflatable modular water sports park that accommodates up to 75 people at once for running, jumping, swinging and swimming through a variety of obstacles designed for every skill level. Participants must be at least six years old and 48-inches tall, and life vests are provided and required. Passes can be purchased in advance, and vehicles entering the state park must purchase an access pass.
AQUA x ZONE
Jordanelle State Park
515 UT-319 (off Highway 40 on the way to Heber City at the Mayflower exit)
Stewart Falls Hike at Sundance Resort
Any reason is a great reason to visit Sundance Mountain Resort, and the chance to experience one of the most beautiful water falls in Northern Utah is definitely among them.
Stewart Falls is named for the Scottish family that – for two generations – inhabited the land that is now Sundance Mountain Resort, ultimately developing it into a small ski area named “Timp Haven.” In 1969, the land was purchased by actor/activist Robert Redford, whose vision was to create a community dedicated to environmental conservation and artistic experimentation. In addition to visiting the falls, I encourage you to visit one of the restaurants at the resort base, and check out the general store and mercantile, famous for their high-quality artisan goods.
The hike to Stewart Falls is considered an easy 3.5-miles (total), and takes you through beautiful groves of pines and aspens on the east side of Mt. Timpanogos. The trail begins at Aspen Grove, located along the Alpine Loop Trail, and offers plenty of parking and rest rooms. There is a $6 entry fee, which is paid at the Forest Service pay station. The Utah Outdoor Activities site provides excellent directions to the trailhead and down to the falls. Check that out by clicking here. The falls can also be accessed from Sundance by purchasing a chairlift ticket to Ray’s Summit and hiking down. On a hot day, plan to go all the way up to the falls and cool off in its mist.
Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series at Deer Valley Resort
Wednesday nights at 5:30 through August 21
What began years ago as intimate outdoor shows at the City Park pavilion has morphed into a weekly community gathering of music-lovers at the much larger Snow Park Amphitheatre. Thanks to local nonprofit, Mountain Town Music, this all-ages event features local performers, free-of-charge, serenading crowds who hang out on blankets and chairs, enjoying picnics and the camaraderie of their fellow mountain-town dwellers. Bring your kids, but not your dogs, your favorite cocktail and a bite to eat and revel in one of the regular happenings that makes Park City so very special. Make the evening extra easy-going by pre-ordering something from Deer Valley Resort’s world-class culinary team. Picnics for specific shows can be ordered by clicking here, and concessions items are ordered here.
Float the Provo River
Mondays – Saturdays, May through September
Shuttle starts at 10 a.m.
The Provo River originates in the high Uinta Mountains and flows into the Jordanelle Reservoir in nearby Heber City. Below the Jordanelle’s dam, the “Middle Provo” flows to Deer Creek Reservoir, while the lower section of the Provo flows out of Deer Creek through Provo Canyon and into Utah Lake. The river is named for trapper Etienne Provost, for whom the city of Provo is named. It’s known for running high and fast in the spring, due to snow runoff, and the Lower Provo, where I recommend booking a tubing session with High Country Adventure outfitters, features Class I and some Class II rapids, along with obstacles.
For that reason, the outfitter recommends individual tubers be at least 12 years old and taller than 5’2”. Adults can link tubes with children ages eight and older. The weight range for tubing is 80-275 pounds, with heavier swimmers, and those who are non-swimmers, able to enjoy the river on a guided raft, as tubing is strenuous and requires decent swimming skills and good physical shape. The two-hour tube rental includes shuttle service, life jackets and basic river navigation. You can also rent wetsuits, booties and a smaller tube to hold your cooler. Sign up for their $29 barbecue add-on, available with the 4 p.m. rafting trip, and feast on ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork, beef brisket, BBQ beans, rolls, cheesy potatoes and coleslaw post-float.
Experience the Kamas Valley on Horseback
Few activities are considered more “Western” than horseback riding, and you won’t find many places to ride in the U.S. more scenic than the nearby Kamas Valley. Located 20 minutes from Park City, the Kamas Valley has retained much of its agrarian roots, and today is still comprised of many working farms and ranches, intermingled with housing developments.
Because so many wide open spaces still exist in Kamas, it’s a perfect place to book a horseback ride through Rhodes Valley Outfitters. Their rides are customized for riders of any level, and utilize a herd of friendly, reliable horses to traverse more than 800 acres of mountainous terrain. They only book private group rides, so no sharing the trail with strangers as the horses plod forward, clustered head-to-tail. Rides are offered year-round, and riders must be at least eight-years-old to participate, and cannot be heavier than 230 pounds. They’ll even start you off with a 10- to 15-minute arena lesson to introduce you to your horse. Rhodes also offer pack trips to help get your camping gear to into secluded spots, without the hassle of carrying it in yourself. Treat yourself after the ride to a cool beverage or tasty meal at the on-site State Road Tavern & Restaurant.
Weber River Rafting
The Weber (pronounced “WEE-bər”) River begins in the northwest area of the Uinta Mountains and empties into the Great Salt Lake. Named for the American fur trapper, John Henry Weber, the Weber flows through pastoral farmlands lands in rural Summit County, offering a river rafting experience singular to the area.
Destination Sports & Adventures takes groups of all abilities (ages 3 years+) out on the Weber for half- and full-day adventures, with options for add-ons like lunch, dinner and transportation to/from Park City. The river experience begins with mild, flat stretches of water that lead to Class II+ rapids and culminate at Taggart Falls. Trips that conclude in the early evening are recommended for the best wildlife viewing. Reservations can be made by clicking here; packages featuring additional activities, such as fly fishing and biking, are also available.
Destination Sports & Adventures
Hot Air Ballooning
If you’ve always wanted to be like the 5th Dimension and go “up, up and away” in a beautiful balloon, Park City is the ideal location, with 360 views of the mountains and valleys surrounding the area.
Balloons launch at sunrise, as that’s when the atmosphere is the most stable and predictable (balloons operators will not launch if the weather is unstable or if winds increase to more than eight-to-ten miles per hour). Rides last an hour, and participants can help with the set-up of the balloon, if they’re interested. Most flights finish with a glass of champagne (or juice) in homage to a tradition started in 18th Century France, when the first hot air balloons would land in random fields, prompting farmers to attack them with pitchforks after mistaking them for fire-breathing dragons. Upon landing, the balloon pilots would offer the farmers champagne in a show of goodwill, which was gratefully received as suitable payment for landing rights. I, however, like to think of the champagne as a toast to landing safely on terra firma …